Emerson Drake caused a minor sensation recently when he reported contents of an email from Bruce Frohman to Modesto Mayor Garrad Marsh. In the email, Frohman offered to write an opposition argument to the Stamp Out Sprawl (SOS) ballot initiative.
Drake claimed the email was evidence Frohman had gone over to the “Dark Side.” Given the context, “Dark Side” most likely meant “pro-development.”
Since Frohman and I communicate frequently, I asked him about the email. Bruce said the email represented a qualified position which he offered to explain in a series of articles for The Valley Citizen. He then sent me the first of a four-part series.
In Part III of the series, I appended a footnote to Bruce’s comment. The note referred to a Modesto Bee article that cited the Goodwin Study. The Goodwin Study was commissioned to review potential costs of annexing Salida to the City of Modesto. It had reported that the costs to Stanislaus County for providing services to Salida were $2.6 million.
Anyone who’s ever dealt publicly with the issue of Salida annexation can expect a frenzy of criticism, and Bruce’s reports caused one. In addition to the comments at The Valley Citizen, I received a string of rebukes via Facebook communications.
A key point of the critics was my footnote. Emerson Drake and Katherine Borges claimed the Goodwin Report had long ago been exposed as bogus. They went on to accuse Bruce and me of failure to research.
After I inquired where and when the Goodwin Report had been “exposed,” I was told that Drake and Borges had discovered errors in the report. Borges wrote the following,
I have vetted the numbers and I have the documents from the county that shows (sic) the expenses attributed to Salida in the Goodwin Study are erroneous. Emerson already gave you the two biggest figures which puts (sic) Salida in the black. The Goodwin Study is a “cooked book” to make Salida look bad to justify annexation. You never hear it brought up anymore (except by Frohman) because the errors have been exposed and its (sic) a moot point now. Eric, I have to agree with Emerson, I don’t know how you can print such tripe on your blog that hasn’t even been researched and has been exposed as false. How can a college professor allow something like that and stake your name and reputation on it?
Bruce Frohman follows local news closely, and so do I. I wondered how we’d both missed the exposure of the Goodwin Report as “erroneous.” After further investigation, I discovered the only place the Goodwin Report had been “exposed” was Emerson Drake’s Eye on Modesto blog.
Since the issue was costs of services to Salida by Stanislaus County, I decided to ask my county supervisor where I could find the appropriate budget items. My supervisor is Dick Monteith. His office replied promptly, saying the following,
Attached an excerpt from the 2013 Goodwin Report that showed gross costs for all County Services at $8 million offset by $5.4 in gross revenues for a net deficit of $2.6 million. The differences in costs/revenue can be attributed to the Goodwin Report factoring in all services and revenue sources while the earlier staff analysis just looked at the Board’s use of discretionary revenue sources. The Goodwin Report was more comprehensive and up to date and is probably the better indicator.
Hope this is helpful. Please let me know if you have any questions or need anything else.
Shortly after receiving the message from Supervisor Monteith, I found myself conversing with Stanislaus County Supervisor Jim DeMartini on another subject. Supervisor DeMartini has a wide and current command of county issues, so I casually inquired about how much it costs Stanislaus County to serve Salida.
“It’s around $3 million,” said Demartini.
When I told Supervisor DeMartini some people had claimed Salida was “in the black” he seemed surprised.
“The cost is around $3 million,” he said. “I’ll stand behind those figures.”
Bruce Frohman, Dick Monteith, and Jim DeMartini are men of impeccable character. All, of course are capable of mistakes. Nonetheless, I trust their “research” far more than I trust the claims of Katherine Borges and Emerson Drake.
It’s possible, of course, that Ms. Borges and Mr. Drake know better than the rest of us. I’m always happy to learn.
Katherine Borges says
Have you even opened and read the Goodwin Study? Your idea of “research” is to ask people who haven’t researched the figures for themselves? Emerson already quoted this one to you on Facebook, but look at the “Detentions and Corrections” figure applied to Salida alone. Thats an amount from the county’s General Fund and is not billed separately to the nine cities in the county. Then why is it applied to Salida? Because all Goodwin did was take the county’s budget and divide it by categories times the population of Salida. They did not research whether those numbers are actually applied to the cities or not, just like with the law enforcement number. Goodwin also did not include Salida’s Mello Roos and CSA tax revenues. They additionally applied a number for fire coverage when we are taxed separately for that. That’s the kind of research that was not included and that you’ve not conducted either.
I think you’re being a good friend to Frohman trying to cover for him as you have, but you’re the laziest academic I’ve ever seen with respect to “researching” whether the numbers in the study are valid or not.
Bruce Frohman says
My thanks to Eric Caine for doing the research to obtain the exact numbers of Salida’s annual subsidy. Kathryn Borges previously told me that Salida does not have the tax revenue to incorporate. Now she says Salida is in the black?
Ms. Borges also accused me of failing to mention Modesto’s utility tax and storm drain fee as evidence that citizens of Modesto pay much higher taxes than Salidans. My storm drain fee was under $4 per month the last time I checked. My utility taxes average less than $12 per month. Compared to my total tax bill, my alleged omission of fact is a drop in the bucket. I humbly apologize to the readers for my oversight.
Katherine Borges says
Misquoting me still Frohman? I never ever said that about Salida’s revenues! Maybe you’ve heard that from other people, but not I. And I never said that Modesto citizens pay “much higher” taxes than Salidans. You said that we pay “the same” and I pointed out that we do not. Why don’t you try going back and reading what I wrote first instead of further proving my point that you need to have your memory checked? Here’s a link to what I wrote, let’s make it easy on you:
Eric Caine says
Katherine: It’s interesting that you haven’t cited Terry Withrow on this issue. Mr. Withrow is Salida’s Supervisor and a highly regarded CPA. Seems like he would be authoritative on county costs. As far as failures to research, your beef is with Supervisors Monteith and DeMartini, not to mention the people at Goodwin. Supervisor DeMartini looks at actual budget figures. I’ve already said I consider him and the others more reliable sources than you and Emerson Drake. Neither of you is unbiased on this issue. On the face of it, the notion that Salida is “in the black” strains credulity. There’s very little retail there, and property taxes don’t come close to covering costs.
Katherine Borges says
I was actually wondering why YOU didn’t contact Supervisor Withrow to conduct your so-called “research” since he is Salida’s supervisor and has actually reviewed the Goodwin Study? He’s also been my CPA for 17 years. I don’t have a “beef” with the other supervisors but why don’t you ask both Supervisors Monteith and DeMartini if they’ve read and researched the figures in the Goodwin Study? The “$3 million” number that Supervisor DeMartini quoted to you was done by the county several years ago to compute what each residence was costing the county. The number the county has come up with is not specific to each community. Ask Supervisor Withrow if you do not believe me.
Eric Caine says
Thank you Katherine. I didn’t contact Supervisor Withrow because he’s not my Supervisor. I have asked for the County’s budget figures. If the number the county has “come up with is not specific to each community” then it would seem none of the budget numbers with regard to each community is reliable. If that’s the case, it’s a big story. However, two issues seem critical: (1) What is the degree of accuracy of the county’s accounting methods and (2) Is Salida “in the black?” The second question is of most interest. If Supervisor Withrow thinks Salida is in the black, it’s big news. I’d love to be the first to get that news out..
Bruce Frohman says
I accurately reported what Ms. Borges told me. I stand by my entire thesis. The reader may decide whom to believe.
Regarding her disparaging remarks of Mr. Caine, I find his research impeccable and above reproach.